Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Form Blazing Sword!

Last week I talked about the image of Jesus as the Good the Shepherd and we His sheep.  Despite the fluffy and sappy art associated with it, it turned out to be a pretty strong image.

This week I get to talk about vines.

Once again, it sounds like a weak imagine.  But it's not.

I dunno if you've ever been to a winery or (much less fun, by the way) needed to clear out wild grapevines, but it's really, really hard to tell which parts are the vine and which are the branches—all of it is just that entwined.

When people talk about having a personal relationship with Christ, that's what it's supposed to be like—an intimacy so completely entwined that it's hard to tell where one part ends and the next begins.

If The Good Shepherd is "You Shall Not Pass" then The Vine is Voltron or (God forgive me) Captain Planet.  One of those deals where combined powers are greater than the sum of their parts.

For the record, Jesus forms the head.
Except, of course, the fact that the special powers (the sweet, sweet grapes) you gain by being entwined with Christ is not a Blazing Sword or a...  a...  whatever Captain Planet's deal was.

It's hard to say what it is without sounding completely and utterly sappy, like some creepy Bo Dallas motivational speaker.  But when you look at the example of the modern Christian saints, you can see how powerful the answer really is.

Mother Theresa

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fred Rogers...

The fruit is love.  Love like Gandalf facing down the Balrog.  Love like a Blazing Sword.

Love for God.

Love for Humanity.

That's the fruit of the Vine.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Lectionary texts

Acts 8:26-40

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.

Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go over to this chariot and join it." So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" He replied, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

    "Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth.
     In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth."

The eunuch asked Philip, "About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?" Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?"
He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Psalm 22:25-31

From you comes my praise
   in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear God.

The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek God shall praise God.
May your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth
    shall remember and turn to God;
and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before God.

For dominion belongs to God,
    and God rules over the nations.

To God, indeed, shall all who sleep
    in the earth bow down;
before God shall bow all
    who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for God.

Posterity will serve God;
   future generations will be told about God,

and proclaim God's deliverance
   to a people yet unborn,
saying that God has done it.

1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God.

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us.

Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

John 15:1-8

[Jesus said:] "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."

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